The best way I can think of to bring biodiversity back to farming and agriculture is to stop using pesticide. Also, practicing natural farming techniques allows natural ecosystems to support themselves. For example, cows keep the grass cut while spreading fertilizer naturally. Allowing cows to graze like free range cows will greatly reduce the number of things a farmer has to do to keep the farm running. It also prevents the use of unnatural fertilizers and other processes.
There are so many ways, it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps the easiest, if you are not a farmer, would be for you to shop from farmers and not supermarkets. Then you can select diverse varieties and let the farmers know that that is what you want. Create the demand, and they will supply it.
Thanks Jeremy. I recently watched Food Inc. and I am a big fan of the idea of “voting with your wallet.” I’d happily pay more for more diverse crops. I don’t want to eat only one company’s version of corn! Haha. Thanks again.
There are farming methods that in fact promote as much biodiversity as possible within the farm. Biodynamic farming, permaculture, natural farming – these all rely on a way of conceiving of the farm as an entire ecosystem that craves diversity. You won’t find mono-crops on these farms. Even the principle crops will be more genetically diverse than what’s available on seed markets because of the emphasis, in these methods, on collecting seeds from the very plants one grows. This is how heirloom varieties evolve, providing an alternative to the major mono-crops one finds in the supermarkets.
In general, the decentralization of agricultural activity will encourage diversity. The fact that most agricultural production is concentrated in a few hands with patented seed types and mono-crop farms – about the worst possible combination for genetic diversity. Indeed, it has already led to the loss of many plant species (such as corn, for example) that once had agricultural utility.
The best solutions: decentralization of agricultural production, and farming methods that encourage biodiversity.
Heirloom seeds are one of the best ways to reincorporate natural genetic diversity into crop species. Heirlooms are seeds that not created by genetic engineering. Generally, they are seeds that were developed over hundreds of years for certain traits. These types of plants are also adaptable to local conditions through artificial selection. Lets say a farmer in Oregon selects seeds from the lettuce plants that did not get infected with mold, a significant problem in the pacific northwest . Over the years his seed stock will become better adapted to pacific northwest climate. Another farmer in texas may take the same seeds and select for drought tolerance. Over many generations these farmers will have re-developed crop genetic diversity through artificial selection.
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